Imperfect but exemplary.

December 4, 2007

Two of my favorite women in Scripture are Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, & Mary, Martha’s sister.

When I think of Mary, Jesus’ mother, I think of deep, thoughtful humility. When I think of Mary, Martha’s sister, I think of pure, genuine love for Jesus. Their faith was simple, uncomplicated: they just really loved Jesus. Everything else was secondary.

With Christmas coming up, I’ve been thinking a lot especially about Mary, Jesus’ mother. One of the songs for the children’s musical is Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), & this past Sunday’s message was about her . . .

MARY: IMPERFECT BUT EXEMPLARY MOTHER OF JESUS (Luke 1:26-38)

– She was not sinless, not of “immaculate conception”, but she was certainly exemplary.
– She was special, because she was chosen by God. “O Mary, You are blessed! You have a gracious God.” (Martin Luther)

A Humble Heart (vv.26-27)

– Mary was in her early teens. She was a peasant girl from Nazareth, a town of low reputation. She was poor, lowly, & had little education. She was illiterate; what she knew of Scripture was probably from what she had heard & memorized.
– “He might have gone to Jerusalem & picked out Caiaphas’s daughter, who was fair, rich, clad in gold-embroidered raiment & attended by a retinue of maids in waiting. But God preferred a lowly maid from a mean town.” (Martin Luther)
– God has never been impressed by the strength of men, & He has never been put off by their weakness or lack of resources (I Samuel 16:7).
– She was simple in heart, in life.
* v. 48 – “For He has looked on the humble estate of His servant . . .”

A Simple Faith (vv. 28-37)

– She was “greatly troubled” – agitated & shaken up in her entire being. Gabriel comes to bless her, to assure her . . . this blessing, apart from God’s grace & strength, would seem an unimaginable burden. She needed Him to help her.
* Luke 2:19 – “But Mary treasured up all these things & pondered them in her heart.”
– While her faith is simple, it is not simplicity. She is not shallow or gullible.
– She reflects; she considers & ponders His truth. She watches as the details of His perfect plan unfold (the discipline of quiet reflection).

Trusting Submission (v. 38)

* v. 38 – “‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.'”
– She didn’t just jump into it; she pondered it. She’s young, but she knows & understands what this (Gabriel’s message: “& behold, you will conceive in your womb & bear a son, & you shall call his name Jesus”) will all mean: shame, stares from the people, her betrothal to Joseph jeopardized . . . & what of her family? Her parents?
– But she remembers who she is in relation to God. She is His servant; that is her identity & role before Him. She saw herself aright, as His servant, & she surrendered her will to His. Her submission was a natural outflow of who she was before Him.
– When we struggle & wrestle to submit to Him, perhaps it is because we have forgotten who we are before Him. What we call “struggle” all too often is disobedience & lack of faith.
– [Submission] with joy & trust.

(For good reading on Mary & Mary, I recommend John Macarthur’s Twelve Extraordinary Women . . .)

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